Wednesday, January 25, 2006

political angst

Going to poach an idea from my friend, Andy, and highlight the exquisite skills of Stephen Colbert, former Daily Show correspondent, host of The Colbert Report (pronounced ra-pore), and all-around swell guy. This week's Onion has a fantastic interview with him discussing politics, pundits, and D&D.

Here's an excerpt:

The A.V. Club:
What's your take on the "truthiness" imbroglio that's tearing our country apart?

Stephen Colbert: Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word. I don't know whether it's a new thing, but it's certainly a current thing, in that it doesn't seem to matter what facts are. It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the president because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist.

...The whole idea of authority... authoritarian means there's only one authority, and that authority has got to be the President, has got to be the government, and has got to be his allies. What the right-wing in the United States tries to do is undermine the press. They call the press "liberal," they call the press "biased," not necessarily because it is or because they have problems with the facts of the left--or even because of the bias for the left, because it's hard not to be biased in some way, everyone is always going to enter their editorial opinion--but because a press that has validity is a press that has authority. And as soon as there's any authority to what the press says, you question the authority of the government--it's like the existence of another authority. So that's another part of truthiness. Truthiness is "What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true." It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.

I wish I could speak half as eloquently or intelligently about the current state of politics as Colbert (or Jon Stewart). I've watched the shifting relationship between our political leaders and the media for the past four years with frustration, disbelief, and angst. And rather than approach the problem in a proactive way, I find myself retreating from the entire subject.

When did the title of president become a free pass to bully, lie, and make-up his own rules? When did the press lose its obligation to be unbiased, to seek the truth, and to hold our leaders accountable?

Or is that the press' job? Before the last election I would have said it was the American people's job to hold our leaders accountable--to state their dissatisfaction with leadership through their votes. And yet five years after he first took office, we still have an unbelievably secretive, almost-certainly corrupt, definitely-incompetent president in the midst of his second term.

I don't know how we go about fixing this. I'm certainly not equipt to do it. When the president refuses lead with honor and the press is impotent or apathetic, I find myself with two options: laugh or cry. I'm glad Mr. Colbert is here to help me do the former.


Thom said...


I completely agree with you. But I have a hope. I hope that with documentaries, bloggers that dig through the facts, and other websites there is a growing independent voice. I hope that voice will eventually bring transparency to the power structures that run our government. I hope that with knowledge of how the government actually works we the American people will begin to vote for politicians who help connect us to our fellow man rather than separate us.

My $0.02


Andy said...

I wish that i shared Thom's faith in the process. I think that their is hope but it is a long time in coming. The 2006 congressional elecyions should be a precursor to 2008. I only hope that there is some truthiness to be found.

Mom said...

It is like horrible deja vu to me. Nixon and Vietnam. Young men and women dying every day because our so-called leaders arrogantly act on their true beliefs. A president who believes he is above the law and blames the "liberal media" when he is confronted with tough questions. This is exactly how it was with Nixon, who ultimately enlisted agencies of our government to spy on Americans who disagreed with him and with the war. His staff broke into Democratic headquarters for god's sake. My peers of the babyboomer generation lived through that nightmare and we should be marching in the streets to stop it from happening again. We have lost our minds.